2015 is the season of the Yankees prospects. Jacob Lindgren, Branden Pinder, Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores, and now Mason Williams have all made their major league debuts early in the season on a team that is historically reluctant to give young, inexperienced players a chance over veterans. This year the Yankees were relying heavily on David Carpenter to be a strong right-handed middle reliever, but that never happened and now the team is trying to throw Jose Ramirez, Chris Martin, and Sergio Santos out there in hopes that at least one of them will become the reliever they need.
But as we all know, the Yankees have always been obsessed with really bad players for unknown reasons. Look at any season over the last 10 or so years and you'll find someone on the roster that clearly had no business being there for as long as they were. We'll focus on relievers: Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Luis Ayala, Cody Eppley, David Huff, Esmil Rogers–Sergio Santos? We've seen so many bad players come in, get a chance, struggle, and still stick around and it's gotten old now. It was one thing when the Yankees didn't have any high profile prospects, but they don't really have an excuse now. The Yankees have a handful of relief prospects who could easily slide into a major league bullpen and would likely offer better results than Santos–yes, he did great the other day, but that's unlikely to continue–or Jose Ramirez–a former top prospect who has yet to be good at the major league level–or Chris Martin, now that he's likely crashed back down to earth. If the Yankees really want to upgrade their right-handed options in the bullpen, they need to call up Nick Rumbelow.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Rumbelow has torn through the Yankees system along with fellow potential high-leverage relievers Tyler Webb and Jacob Lindgren. In his first full year of pro ball, the righty was able to reach Triple-A and positioned himself well for a 2015 debut. When Lindgren and even Pinder made their debuts, it opened up the door for the rest to follow. This year, he has a 3.62 ERA with a 9.7 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 providing exciting strikeout numbers and improved control. The ERA isn't exciting, but it's hard to pay attention to a minor league reliever's ERA in June when they pitch so few innings. He's kept right-handed hitters to a .446 OPS, and though lefties have an .819 OPS against him, that number is only so high because he's allowed three home runs against them, so it might not automatically be an issue at the next level–they're still only hitting .255 off him. As far as momentum goes, he has only allowed one hit with five strikeouts and no walks over his last 6.1 innings in the month of June. He's getting the job done right now and the Yankees need that, so there's no better time.
As far as his stuff goes, Rumbelow is a fastball-curveball strikeout guy who generates a 92-95 mph fastball with an overhand delivery that allows him to generate good downward plane despite being only six-foot. His 83-85 mph curveball is more like a slider, which the Yankees probably like a lot given their proven profile for pitchers over the last few years. It is believed that Rumbelow has the potential to be a future set-up man in the majors, so if they have that type of talent in the bullpen now, it will be an even greater strength, considering the weapons they already have in the backend.
Obviously the biggest issue would be actually getting it to happen, since he's not on the 40-man roster, but there are a few moves they can make to bring the 23-year-old reliever to the Bronx. First of all, it might be time to consider placing Jacoby Ellsbury on the 60-day disabled list. He's been out a month now and it still doesn't sound like he's close. They've said maybe another two weeks, but it could end up being longer. The Yankees could likely afford to send Chris Capuano on his way at this point since they can have Adam Warren or even Bryan Mitchell as the long reliever. Maybe an easier decision to make would be to simply DFA Gregorio Petit, who just came off the disabled list and was optioned to Triple-A. With Brendan Ryan, Didi Gregorius, and Stephen Drew in the majors and Jose Pirela in the minors, the Yankees don't exactly need another light-hitting middle infielder on the roster.
The Yankees have often been trigger shy of a lot of transactions, whether it's bringing up the rookie or cutting the veteran. This year they have a chance to break that cycle. They've cut Esmil Rogers already and if they can get Rumbelow up here, perhaps they can avoid repeating history once again with Sergio Santos. After all, Rumbelow actually has upside.